Taken by Mackenzie Stolp

Malibu Rising: The One Book You Need to Read this Year

Written by Mackenzie Stolp

Taylor Jenkins Reid quickly became a household name after the success of her books The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six. Her name on a book now guarantees a best seller. Her last book Daisy Jones has been bought by Reese Witherspoon (of course) to be transformed into a TV show, released through Amazon Prime. Reid’s latest release, Malibu Rising is her seventh book and her skill in storytelling and creating captivating characters only continues to grow. Taylor Jenkins Reid has shifted the genre known as ‘domestic literary fiction’ and has produced a series of books that break down expectations on ‘female literature’ or, commonly put, books for mums. 

A world we all wished we experienced; Malibu Rising is set in the surfing community of Malibu in the 1980s. Nina Riva is a local legend, and her annual end-of-summer party is the only social event worth discussing. Everyone is fascinated with the Riva family, as was I. From her father, the renowned singer Mick Riva, her surfer brother Jay, photographer Hud, and her younger sister Kit. Flashing from the present back to the beginnings of their parent’s relationship, Malibu Rising is an extensive exploration of the Riva family. 

I adored this novel. Our current Melbourne weather has been miserable, raining, and grey. However, we were blessed with a brief stint of two sunny days, starkly bright and a moderate 23 degrees – the perfect condition to read this book. It was insulting to think I should read a book about sun-kissed legends surfing and lying on a beach in any other weather condition. I quickly devoured the book, luckily, over these two days. Following Nina and her family was comforting, despite the drama, the drugs, and the entropy of the story – I could not stop reading. Reid has a delicate way of unfolding a story and revealing plot twists that feel less like ‘gotcha’ moments, and instead combine to a perfect momentum to push you through the novel.

My personal favourite sections were snippets from partygoers and their intentions. Reid would serve us two or three pages focus on individuals who were sparsely mentioned in the book, giving a brief insight into why they were present at Riva’s iconic party. These moments were important in creating the world, giving life to the story. Every time I read a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, I cannot believe the characters are not real people.

Malibu Rising does the impossible – creates a fun and easy-to-read story that is also intricate and dramatic. Deep, moving and one of the best books about family to date – Malibu Rising might be the one book you need to read this year. 

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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